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"90 minutes, $7: DIY Commands and Colors Game Mat" Topic

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GameCon '98

The Editor tries out this first-year gaming convention in the San Francisco Bay Area (California).

4,782 hits since 13 Nov 2013
©1994-2022 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP13 Nov 2013 4:22 p.m. PST

So today I made a game mat to play CnC with minitaures instead of the blocks and board. It was a very easy, inexpensive project. Here is how I did it:

  • Buy 2 yards of green flannel. Cost $6.50 USD. That gives me a 42" wide by 60" long green mat. This is big enough to do 5" hexes. Flannel looks good but "snags" less than felt I think.
  • OPTIONAL: Iron the cloth if necessary and lay out on the floor. If you are inside put down a 5x7 tarp first. Then spray it with a variety of tans, greens and yellows. Basically just use whatever you have lying around. I even used a mist of black. This makes your mat look less like the 9th hole at Augusta and more like countryside.
  • On a piece of thin cardboard draw a triangle with 5" sides. Cut this out. This is your "hex" template.
  • Lay out the cloth on a large table. From the long side, measure 8" in from the left and 7" from the bottom and mark a dot with a green felt tip marker. Put the triangle down with the lower left corner on the dot. The side facing you should be parallel to the edge of the cloth. Put a dot at each of the other two corners. Flip the triangle horizontally (so the point is now closer to you) and mark the corners again.
  • Continue marking dots until you have a 9x13 grid. the dots are the centers of each hex. The first row is 13 hexes wide, the second row is 12 then 13 then 12 and so on. This took me maybe 20 minutes.
  • With a cheap old brush pick a contrasting color to your mat and put a 1/4" dot of paint on each dot you drew with the felt tip. My flannel was bright green so I used a darker contrasting green.
  • You can either paint on the lines that split the map into thirds or, what I am doing, is to trim 1" off one end of your flannel and make moveable markers. I plan to cut small strips and paint a line of yellow dots down the middle. Note:These dividers are in different locations for Ancients vs Napoleonics.
  • DONE!

With a 5" spacing a CD fits perfectly as a terrain piece. So you can make forests, towns etc. on CDs and they will fit on your game mat. If you leave the center hole empty you can even see the "hex dot".

Best of all, you can also use the mat for non hex games as the center markings are visible when you need to see them, but blend in when you don't! I'll take a picture of mine and post here tomorrow when there is some daylight!

ferg98113 Nov 2013 4:56 p.m. PST

Time for photographs…

Kmfisher13 Nov 2013 4:57 p.m. PST

Genius idea!

dantheman Supporting Member of TMP13 Nov 2013 5:04 p.m. PST

Gotta see pics, especially as the Austrian set ships this week.

VonTed13 Nov 2013 5:22 p.m. PST

Pics or it didn't happen.

1905Adventure13 Nov 2013 5:48 p.m. PST

I'm watching this space :D

Buzzkill13 Nov 2013 7:06 p.m. PST

Since there are no pics, I have to assume you completely made this up.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP13 Nov 2013 7:27 p.m. PST

Here is a shot of the mat on the dining room table:


Here is a closer shot of one end which shows the mottling and some of the hex dots:


Here is an extreme close up which shows the original color and how the hex dots look up close:


In your FACE Burgundy!

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP13 Nov 2013 7:33 p.m. PST

Yes the pics suck a bit cuz you lot couldn't wait for daylight.

VonTed14 Nov 2013 5:23 a.m. PST


Who asked this joker14 Nov 2013 7:34 a.m. PST

Question. You said 5" hexes and 5" triangle. If I am reading this correctly, you are using the equilateral triangle with 5" sides and marking the "pie wedges" of the hex. With that in mind, should the hexes not be 10" across or am I just reading the process wrong?

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Nov 2013 7:55 a.m. PST

Not quite. Each point of the triangle marks the CENTER of the hex, not an intersection. The centers are 5" apart – so 5" hexes (measured side-to-side, they will be larger measured point to point). So units will sit on the dots, not between them…

Who asked this joker14 Nov 2013 8:14 a.m. PST

Ok. I think I get it. I'll have to play around with it on a piece of paper to see for sure. grin

timlillig14 Nov 2013 8:54 a.m. PST

Looks good Mark, which of the C&C games are you playing? I would be interested in playing some time, if you are looking for opponents.

If I were making a similar cloth, I would probably modify the method by using a bunch of cds in a hex grid for spacing the dots or edges of the hexes.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Nov 2013 3:04 p.m. PST


Currently basing 6mm troops from the SYW to use with the Napoleonics set up. Drop me a line some time at mark at scalecreep dot com….

AICUSV14 Nov 2013 4:34 p.m. PST

I made my mat with 4" hexes (flat to flat). To lay out the hexes I first made a master hex template. This is very easy to make, I used a piece of card stock and first drew a 4.5" circle with a compass. Then place the point of the compass on the circumference of the circle and marked two arcs on the circumference. Next I moved the point of the compass to one of the intersecting arcs and drew two more arcs. I repeated this until the circumference was marked off with 6 pairs of intersecting arcs (they make a curved X on the circumference). With a straight edge I connected the 6 points. This gave me the master hex I then used this hex to mark out one of wood. It was the wooden master that I used to mark my mat.

I marked my mat with a Y at each corner of the hex. I laid out the hexes by running a string line across the both center axis of the mat. I started marking in the center working my out to the edges.

This may appear like a lot of extra work, but being this was the first time I made a hexed marked mat, I had learned that from earlier mistakes. Besides it was fun to do.

AICUSV14 Nov 2013 4:38 p.m. PST

Here is a photo of my marking out the mat.


And one of it being used


Temporary like Achilles14 Nov 2013 5:13 p.m. PST

Nice method, AICUSV. Nice to see a string line or two getting some use!


GDrover14 Nov 2013 10:37 p.m. PST

I did a mat just like Extra Crispy a few years ago, but then discovered hex mats from Hotz Mats, and had to order them. I love them!


GDrover14 Nov 2013 10:40 p.m. PST

I'm a huge fan of playing C&C with 28mm miniatures. I have my own homebrew version for Napoleonics and ACW, but play the ancients rules unchanged.

Glad to see others enjoying this great system on the tabletop.

AICUSV29 Nov 2013 12:48 p.m. PST

The string line in the "in use" photo mark the flanks of the board. I use the string as the size may change from game to game. The mat size is actually twice that as the C&C board. Twice as wide and twice as deep.

We recently played the Battle of Vittoria, this required to whole mat and there were no flanks. Instead of flanks each side was divided into three armies. Army of the Right, Center, and Left. Troops from those armies moved on the cards identifying that flank. This is the largest C&C battle we have played to date and still finished in 4 hours with the French winning.

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